A reader asked me to re-up the broken link to this mix, first posted in early 2010. So here I post the whole shebang again, this time with covers, since I suspect some thoughtful children and grandchildren of people who witnessed the time this compilation recalls might want to give the mix as a Christmas present. As always, the thing is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.
I hope that this collection of songs about or set in New York, spanning 30 years, will find an audience. And I hope that some of these songs will inspire the listener to seek out more music by some of the artists who are largely forgotten now.
Here I think of the great Anita O’Day, featured here twice, an extraordinary vocalist whose lifestory would mirror any sordid rock & roll tale. Or Red Nichols, the innovative jazzman who is said to have recorded 4,000 songs before he turned 25. Danny Kaye played him in the 1959 biopic The Five Pennies, which also starred Bob Crosby, the younger brother of Bing, who was a vocalist and bandleader in his own right, though here he appears as a guest of The Dorsey Brothers, both of who feature in this mix heading their own bands.
Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey played with Sam Lanin as did two other future bandleaders included here: Red Nichols on the cornet and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. Lanin was more an arranger than he was a musician, but a 1920s hit factory nonetheless (Bing Crosby got his break with Lanin’s orchestra). By the late 1930s, Lanin had retired from the music business.
The Mills Brothers may be most widely remembered better for their 1952 proto-doo wop hit Glow Worm, but by then they were veterans in the music game, having started in 1928, paving the way for the similar Ink Spots. The brothers stopped performing 61 years later, in 1989 (by then having been decimated to two by death).
Dolly Dawn, known to her mother by the more demure name Theresa Maria Stabile, was a massive singing star in the 1930s and early ’40s. She was one of the very first female singers to lead her own band, the Dawn Patrol. Her career was cut short when many members of her band were drafted to serve Uncle Sam in WW2.
The 1920s and ’30s were the golden age of African-American vaudeville acts of the age of the tap dance and the soft-shoe, silver-capped canes and gleaming cufflinks, the Bojangles scene. Jimmy Lunceford, whose orchestra began as a high school band which Lunceford taught in Memphis, is perhaps the best example here of that influence on jazz, incorporating humour in the music (in much the some way the Italian Louis Prima would). Rumour has it that Lunceford died in 1947 after being poisoned by a restaurateur in Oregon who resented the presence of a black patron in his establishment. More extreme things happened in the sorry history of 20th century US racism.
1. Anita O’Day – Take The ‘A’ Train (1958)
2. Tommy Dorsey & Jo Stafford – Manhattan Serenade (1943)
3. Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Blossoms On Broadway (1937)
4. Mound City Blue Blowers – She’s A Latin From Manhattan (1935)
5. Louis Prima and his Orchestra – Brooklyn Bridge (1945)
6. The Dorsey Brothers feat. Bob Crosby – Lullaby Of Broadway (1935)
7. The Quintones – Harmony In Harlem (1940)
8. The Mills Brothers – Coney Island Washboard (1932)
9. Tempo King’s Kings Of Tempo – Bojangles Of Harlem (1936)
10. Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson – Sixth Avenue Express (1941)
11. Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra – Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938)
12. Judy Garland & Fred Astaire – A Couple Of Swells (1948)
13. Lee Wiley & Ellis Larkins – Give It Back To The Indians (1954)
14. Dinah Washington – Manhattan (1959)
15. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Autumn In New York (1956)
16. Gene Krupa feat. Anita O’ Day – Let Me Off Uptown (1941)
17. Cab Calloway Cotton Club Orchestra – Manhattan Jam (1937)
18. Mills Blue Rhythm Band – There’s Rhythm In Harlem (1935)
19. Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra – Slumming On Park Avenue (1937)
20. Artie Shaw and his Orchestra – To A Broadway Rose (1941)
21. Red Nichols and his Orchestra – The New Yorkers (1929)
22. Sam Lanin’s Orchestra with Jack Hart – The Broadway Melody (1929)
23. Frankie Trumbauer – Manhattan Rag (1929)
24. Leadbelly – New York City (1940)